History – The dark side of Rome

History – The dark side of Rome

The dark side of Rome

In this article we will see: “The dark side of Rome”, history, the chronicle of human civilization, serves as a window to the past, illuminating the triumphs, struggles, and evolution of societies over millennia. Through the study of historical events, we unravel the complexities of our collective heritage and gain insight into the forces shaping our present and future.

Summary : History – The dark side of Rome

In the annals of history, ancient Rome stands as a fascinating tapestry of culture, entertainment, and cruelty. Through the lens of playwrights, poets, and historians, we delve into the complexities of Roman society, where theatrical performances mirrored societal norms and moral complexities. From the comedic genius of Plautus to the insightful wit of Tacitus, the theater served as both a reflection and a critique of Roman life. Amidst the laughter and applause, there existed a darker underbelly of cruelty and oppression, revealing the stark realities of power dynamics and societal inequalities in the ancient world.

History – The dark side of Rome

In ancient Rome, the actors of the time performed excellent Roman comedies. For several years, the comic poet Plautus entertained crowds with new plays that told timeless stories: for example, the tale of the father terrified by his wife and ridiculed by his sons. The plays themselves were noisy. The actors readily engaged with the audience to mock them, and their jokes were not always in good taste. Later, Terence, a young and fashionable writer, began writing plays of a completely different genre.

His comedies appealed to young men who, after studying in Greece, returned to Rome convinced that their fathers were old-fashioned, out-of-touch men. Terence, of course, borrowed the plots of his stories from ancient Greek comedies, transforming them by infusing his own style and wit: the Roman youth now dreamed only of making puns like Terence.

However, to enjoy the witty lines, one had to hear them. This became increasingly difficult because, year after year, the staging of the plays became more elaborate. Constant additions were made to the initial spectacle, so much so that the audience became more interested in what they could see, at the expense of what they could no longer hear. In Nero’s time, the emperor brought a touch of realism to the dramas. When one of the characters in the play had to die, some random prisoner was given the role. They were dressed accordingly, pushed onto the stage, and then killed for real.

Moreover, Nero tried to give a Greek stamp to the Roman repertoire. He asked his former tutor Seneca to translate the most striking Greek theatrical works into Latin. Seneca’s adaptation of these Greek plays set a standard: 1500 years later, European playwrights still drew inspiration from them. Nero did not like competition.

Lucan, Seneca’s young nephew, learned this to his detriment. Lucan unfortunately wrote verses like Nero did. However, Lucan’s poetry was better than the emperor’s. Nero forbade the young man from reading his work in public. This injustice so angered the poet that he became involved in a plot against the emperor and lost his life.

Petronius, one of Nero’s courtiers, was a wiser poet than poor Lucan. He began writing poems full of wit that Nero loved, which the wise Petronius denied being the author of. Petronius’s main work, named Satyricon and written half in verse and half in prose, greatly amused the court, although the courtiers and the emperor himself were somewhat mocked in it.

One day, things went bad for Petronius, but not because of the Satyricon. One of his rivals, jealous of his favor at court, spread rumors that he was involved in a plot against Nero. Petronius was condemned to death, for a crime he was innocent of. This could have provided material for a good story to add to the Satyricon!

In the years following Petronius’s death, other writers made horrifying descriptions of the city. With Nero gone, one might have thought that the demons within him would perish with him. It was not the case. The poet Juvenal attests to this. Wherever he looked, he saw only evil and madness. According to him, at that time, Rome was a nightmare city. Juvenal searched high and low, but he never found on his path a virtuous woman or a single honest man. But perhaps, after all, he was particularly unlucky!

Rumor has it that Juvenal used vitriol as ink for his writings. It must be admitted that his judgment on Rome is not tender. Life might have embittered him. It is also possible that, with his turn of mind, he only found evil because he was looking for it.

However, Tacitus confirms his words. Tacitus, one of the greatest historians of the time, undertook to write the history of Rome and its emperors, from Tiberius to Domitian. He called this period “the age of darkness and shame.” Tacitus had good reason to hate the emperors. He had lived under the reign of Domitian, who had the “conspirators” executed, before the conspiracy even existed!

However, after listening to Juvenal and Tacitus, let us see what Pliny thinks of his time. Pliny was a friend of Tacitus. He found nothing alarming or dramatic about the Roman world as it was then. It must be said that Pliny, a provincial administrator under Trajan, did not live in Rome itself. As the nephew of Pliny the Elder, he inherited from him a great skill in wielding the pen. His Letters are a masterpiece of the genre. He talks about his duties, his habits, and what he sees around him. He describes a world, certainly busy, but not at all malicious, mad, or depraved.

In fact, the blight of the times was in Rome itself. Emperor Hadrian eventually noticed it. When he traveled through the empire, he could admire rich lands, prosperous cities, and populations seemingly content with their lot. But when he returned to Rome, he felt that something was wrong. A certain ugliness in the city contrasted with its outward magnificence. In fact, many Romans found the circus games still too mild.

Many would have liked the gladiators to fight without armor to get to the final murder scene sooner. It was even very strange that a people so eager to build durable works like roads and bridges cared so little about human life!

Yet, it was thus, and the unfortunate slaves knew it as well as the gladiators! For many years, no law protected them, not even against the cruelest masters. If a slave ran away and was caught, they were branded with a hot iron. However, if, in a fit of rage, a master killed a slave, no one cared. Slaves were treated worse than livestock: in fact, cattle cost more!

However, there were also masters who understood that their slaves were human beings and treated them accordingly. The episode of Spartacus, threatening Italy at the head of his army of rebellious slaves, made legislators think. Laws were enacted to curb the excesses of some abusive masters. When Augustus came to power, he also tried to improve the fate of the slaves. Nevertheless, the lives of these unfortunate people continued to weigh very little on the scale.

Last word about : History – The dark side of Rome

As the curtains draw on our exploration of ancient Rome, we are left with a profound understanding of its cultural vibrancy and moral ambiguities. Through the vivid portrayals of playwrights like Plautus and the incisive critiques of historians like Tacitus, we have witnessed the multifaceted nature of Roman society. The theater, with its comedic reprieves and tragic revelations, served as a mirror reflecting the complexities of human nature. Yet, amidst the laughter and applause, lingered the shadows of cruelty and oppression, reminding us of the timeless struggles for power and justice that have shaped civilizations throughout history

Training platforms

Zadibridge is a very recent website which contains many diverse and varied articles, its articles cover many aspects of life, including sciences, cuisine and folklore and various cultures.

At the same time, Zadibridge site offers three educational platforms, two of which are free. To access the educational platform on YouTube, please click (here). This channel contains free products, most of which are videos that do not give teachers the benefit of tracking their learners. We also offer our documentaries: to access the documentary channel on the Zadibridge, please click (here). And, if you wish to access our training platform which offers different courses in French, English and Arabic, please click (here), our training platform is a targeted platform, its products are professional and their prices are very competitive.

Similar Posts:

Other Posts:

A final word

We hope that this article helped you to get a better understanding of History. For more articles related to mankind History in specific, or scineces; in general, please visit our Home Page.